I consider myself to be a very lucky man. I own both of the competing current generation handheld gaming systems. I bought myself a Nintendo 3DS the day that it dropped in price. It was my “Disneyland Souvenir” from our family trip to California in August 2011. Rather than get some trinket from the Magic Kingdom that I probably wouldn’t use, I decided to treat myself to the 3D gaming goodness that Nintendo had to offer. For months it was my companion anytime I ventured from the house. Even tucked away in its protective case it was pocketable in my work slacks. Life was indeed good.
However, me being the Sony fanboy that I am currently seeking counseling for, I knew that the powerhouse PS Vita was looming on the horizon ready to smash Nintendo’s cute little device into bits of plastic and silicone. The internet was abuzz with schoolyard banter about which system (if either) would reign supreme. On paper, the Vita seemed like the sure winner. After all Nintendo was forced to lower the price of the 3DS mere months after its release. And there were scattered reports of children’s brains melting when exposed to stereoscopic 3D images. How could it possibly hold its own against the front and back touch, dual analog, nearly PS3 quality graphics having Vita?
As the release date for the Vita grew closer, the tides were beginning to turn both on the internet and within my mind. The Vita was announced to have (at least in the U.S.) AT&T exclusivity for the 3G connectivity. I have actually traveled 75 miles to a nearby town to get my current cell phone provider in order to avoid giving AT&T my business. Also the announcement of the steep price for the proprietary memory cards, which are different than the ones I already own for my PSPs and digital cameras, was pretty troubling to say the least.
While this was transpiring, Nintendo did something rather unexpected. They started releasing good games. Having never played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on previous generation systems, it seemed like a no-brainer. Mario Kart 7 promised to offer all the kart racing goodness of previous titles with some interesting new twists thrown in for good measure. Super Mario 3D Land seemed, well Super. Combine those games with other much anticipated announcements and I figured I could afford to wait to buy the Vita.
Of course come launch day my inner Sony sympathizer started to feel the pull of the Vita. When a local retailer offered to give a healthy trade-in bonus on any generation PSP toward the purchase of a new Vita, I promptly sacrificed my trusty old PSP 1000 to the Vita gods. Of course I had to thumb my nose at AT&T, so I bought the wifi-only model. The Vita had officially become the only gaming system that I had ever purchased on launch day.
Finances being what they were, I couldn’t afford to purchase any games with the system, much less a memory card. Fortunately my little brother had preordered a package that included a 4gig stick. He had also ordered himself an upgraded one and sold me his smaller card at a hefty discount. Even if I couldn’t afford to buy any Vita specific games, the potential that the dual analog sticks had for virtually transforming my previous generation PSP games into pieces of true gaming genius could not be overstated.
A few months after the Vita’s launch and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I am still reaching for my 3DS when I walk out the door. The reason is simple, the games. The 3DS just has better games than the Vita. Outside of a few good launch games, Sony has been slow to release any more stellar titles, whereas Nintendo seems to have just hit their stride. Even with the obvious handicap of only one touchscreen and a single measly analog stick, the 3DS is managing to put out really good games. Right now the biggest thing making me want to play my Vita is the promise of being able to earn trophies on my PSN account on the go, but not without some good games.
Visually the Vita is a much more powerful machine. The graphics that can be rendered on the Vita’s screen are nothing short of amazing! It’s hard to believe that images this crisp and vibrant are able to be produced on a console that can fit in your pocket. The 3DS is inferior, but it’s no slouch. The screens of the 3DS are more than capable of displaying the type of images that are Nintendo’s bread and butter. Many people are critical of the 3D functionality of the 3DS. They say that it is worthless or that it causes headaches. I personally think it’s brilliant! The technology alone is impressive and I personally enjoy using 3D at least halfway up the slider most of the time.
The Vita’s “Near” app is a neat little thing, letting me see other Vita owners in the area and what they have been playing. But the 3DS’s StreetPass system is better. Nothing compares to the excitement that fills me when I pull my 3DS out of my pocket and see the little green light illuminated in the corner indicating that I have received another StreetPass. I can’t wait to see what Mii is waiting to greet me and give me a new puzzle piece and adventure in Find Mii with me. The only thing that comes close is the feeling of disappointment that I feel when I see another 3DS “in the wild” and realize that I have left mine at home, missing out on the potential StreetPass opportunity.
I have not yet given up on the Vita. it’s a great piece of kit with tons of potential. It shouldn’t even be a competition, but it most certainly is, and for the time being at least MY 3DS is winning.
Troy “NMReign” Starrett